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Yancha, how the geographical environment influence on its flavor and aroma

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

Yancha, Rock or Cliff Tea, the name originates from the growing condition - the old bushes cling to the rock in beds and valleys between natural gorges, and its signature mineral flavor, ancient Chinese gave a poetic word 岩韵 rock rhythm to appreciate the essence of Yancha.

Wuyishan was nominated as a biosphere reserve of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program in 1987. It is the largest, most typical, and best-preserved humid subtropical native forest in the world. Let’s fly over to Wuyi mountain and see more background of Yancha. 

Before we start, let’s keep in mind there are many known and unknown factors and elements that influence the aroma and flavor of tea, however, the very basic three factors are tea varietals/ cultivars, Geographical environment, and processings. We will fly from far to near, the image you join this journey with VR set, zoom in...  In the first chapter, we talk about the geographical environment.


丹霞地貌 Danxia Landform


Danxia literally means "rosy cloud", here it refers to a type of sandstone landform consisting of a red bed characterized by steep cliffs". It is a unique type of petrographic geomorphology found in China. 


The formation of the Wuyi Mountains was mainly at the beginning of the Cretaceous Period. At that time, a very important crustal movement occurred along the southeast coast of China. Geologically called the 燕山运动 Yanshan tectonic movement, the Wuyi Mountains were mainly formed through this crustal movement. Today's Wuyishan nature reserve and urban area were inland lake basins at that time, various rocks in the mountains around the lake basin have been weathered and eroded, and a large number of detrital materials are carried by the water to the lake basin and deposited layer by layer. After long-term geological action, hard sedimentary rocks, red gravel rocks are formed.  The workings of Nature of a typical Danxia landform have left behind 36 peaks, 72 caves, 99 rocks and 108 scenic spots. The Stream with Nine Turnings is emerald green and crystal clear. And the most prominent one related to Yancha is called 三坑两涧 three pits and two streams, we will introduce it in a separate blog.

From a botanical perspective, this topographic feature is an irreplaceable barrier for tea plants growing in Wuyi Mountain. When the cold air reaches Wuyi Mountain every year, it is blocked by the mountains and cannot go directly south and east. Due to the terrain barrier, Wuyi Mountain has risen to the level of thermal climate zone. The rich thermal zone creates a natural greenhouse for tea trees, but also animals, insects, so there are countless ecological relationships living in a harmonized symbiosis environment. The cliffs on the sides shield the bushes from too much sunshine, which results in creating rich amino acids. The water that flows down the cliffs around is full of rich minerals, it provides good nutrients and conditions for the roots to produce more sugar than to provide the nutrients for vibrant photosynthesis of the tea leaves.


In the next blog, we will talk about why 正岩岩茶 Zhengyan Yancha - "True Rock/ Cliff Tea" is unique and expensive. If you want to get to know more about the most famous Yancha/Rock Tea, we have Si Da Ming Cong/the Four Great Tea Cultivars - Qi Dan, Da Hong Pao, Tie Luo Han, Bai Ji Guan for you to explore right away.

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